There are some books and some authors which are guaranteed to make you feel better whatever your mood. One such author for me is Ruskin Bond. Reading a Ruskin Bond book is like sitting peacefully by a river while a cool breeze teases your hair and bird’s music fills your heart. Soothing and calming. Almost all his books are based in small towns of Himachal Pradesh. The Blue Umbrella is a story about a poor little girl Binya and… her blue umbrella. One day while out with the family cows she comes across a few tourists having a picnic. One of the ladies in the group has a bright blue umbrella. Its beautiful and the fascinated Binya comes out of her hiding place lured by it. The picnickers barter the umbrella for a leopard claw pendant which Binya always wears. A delighted Binya runs home with her lovely umbrella. She carries it everywhere with her and seldom ever closes it. Everybody who sees the umbrella is besotted by it and kind Binya is always happy to lend it to anybody who asks her for it. Everybody is happy except for Ram Bharosa, an elderly grocery shop owner. He covets the umbrella and tries to get Binya to sell it to him. But Binya always refuses him. The yearning for the bright, blue umbrella sets him brooding. No stranger to his lust for the umbrella, Ramrajan, a young boy who helps him run the shop tries to steal the umbrella but is caught by Bijju, Binya’s brother. Frightened, he blurts out Ram Bharosa’s name and so begins a bad, bad time for the elderly shopkeeper. Everybody starts avoiding his shop; nobody even bothers to talk to him. Ram Bharosa is miserable and it is all his own fault. Then one day, Binya enters his shop along with her blue umbrella. She looks at him and his gloomy face touches her heart. She GIVES him her umbrella, for keeps! Ram Bharosa cannot believe she is in earnest. And seriously, I couldn’t either! Ram Bharosa is ecstatic. His entire character seems to undergo a transformation. He is more cheerful, not so rude with children and he adds extra milk and sugar to Binya and Bijju’s tea whenever they visit his shop! The story is written simply yet oh so beautifully. Ruskin Bond never preaches, the stories’ morals hit you long after you have closed the book. Give this one a try. I can vouch for it!